Over a decade ago, in 2009, Rajnitsinh Disale walked in the Zilla Parishad school, in the remote Paritewadi village located in Solapur, which was a rundown building that had a cattle shed on one side and a storeroom on the other.
The students, mainly from the tribal community, accommodated themselves in the middle room with just 2% who were girls.
But today, the school is known to the world, thanks to the efforts of Ranjitsinh who transformed their educational system through technology.
For his extraordinary work to empower girls and promote education Ranjitsinh is now the world’s most exceptional teacher after being conferred with the Global Teacher Prize 2020. The prize money awarded is $ 1 million, equivalent to Rs 7 crore in India.
The award instituted by Varkey foundation saw 12,000 nominations across the world, out of which 10 were shortlisted in 2019 and Ranjitsinh was one of them.
“I would distribute half the amount to the other nine contestants for their exceptional work,” Ranjitsinh told the host, Stephen Fry, over an interview during the live telecast of the event.
Watch the full interaction here
Explaining the reason Ranjtsinh says he may have won the award, but he cannot change the world by himself. He adds that all the runner-ups should get equal opportunity to continue their exceptional work.
Out of the remaining amount, Ranjithsinh tells Maharashtra Times, 30% of the amount would be dedicated to conceiving Teacher Innovation Fund across India. “Twenty per cent of the prize money will be spent to bring 5,000 students together from war-afflicted zones of the world to form the Peace Army,” the 32-year-old teacher said.
Speaking with The Times of India, the teacher attending 110 students is said to have worked in convincing girls and their parents to educate them. Thanks to his efforts, there are no teenage marriages in the village and it sees 100% attendance rates today.
The school also got the Best School Award from the Maharashtra State Government.
Making education interactive
Ranjitsinh was also in the limelight in 2016 when he started a QR code system in school textbooks that was replicated across the state and nation.
“To make education interactive and accessible to students in the digital format, Ranjitsinh introduced the technology. I once saw a person scan the QR code from the scanning device and realised that the same principle could get replicated for transferring textbook information to digital mediums,” Ranjithsinh explained.
However, it was not just the technology that needed work. As the majority of the students understood Kannada language, Ranjitsinh had to learn the language and translate the syllabus from Class I to IV and share his knowledge through the technology.
Recently, one of the tribal girl students graduated from the university.
The technology helped students access video lectures, audio poems and assignments. In 2017, the state government announced to have QR-coded textbooks for all classes. The following year, the central government announced a plan to replicate the model.
However, his latest international recognition is not the first for this modest teacher.
In 2018, Ranjitsinh was awarded the Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert by Microsoft itself. He was also recognised for his innovation by the Government of India by awarding him with the National Innovation Foundation’s Innovator of the Year.